Holiday horror stories

Lisa+Durrant%27s+grandfather%2C+Frank+Pankanin%2C+seated+for+birthday+breakfast+after+his+festive+walk+to+the+table.
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Holiday horror stories

Lisa Durrant's grandfather, Frank Pankanin, seated for birthday breakfast after his festive walk to the table.

Lisa Durrant's grandfather, Frank Pankanin, seated for birthday breakfast after his festive walk to the table.

Photo by Lisa Durrant

Lisa Durrant's grandfather, Frank Pankanin, seated for birthday breakfast after his festive walk to the table.

Photo by Lisa Durrant

Photo by Lisa Durrant

Lisa Durrant's grandfather, Frank Pankanin, seated for birthday breakfast after his festive walk to the table.

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Winter break is not just about Christmas carols, snow angels and joyful “Happy New Year”s. Most times, it is also studded by awkward, even cringe-worthy moments that turn into comical memories only after they’ve occurred.

Holiday horror stories both loud and quiet certainly made their mark on the winter breaks of Marquette students. While some were merely laughable hiccups, others had students counting down the days until campus reopened and rescued them from their dismaying circumstances. All it takes is the smallest comment from a friend or family member to make an evening unforgettable in the most embarrassing way.

Such was the case with Claire Conger, a freshman in the College of Health Sciences, who went through a stereotypical love life interrogation while at a meal with her extended family.

“It started with my aunt just saying to me, ‘Tell me about your love life,’” Conger said. “But then it got quiet and turned into us all going around the table and having to give a full report of who was dating who.”

With older sisters both in relationships, Conger said she thought she would get off easy by deflecting the attention in their direction. But when her younger cousin suddenly armed himself with pictures from her social media profiles, she realized she wouldn’t make it out unscathed.

“(My cousin) started pulling up pictures from my Instagram and asking, ‘Who’s this guy? Who’s that guy?’” Conger said. “And doing that started a whole new craze, because then my aunt found the guy my sister is dating on Facebook and asked if I thought she should send him a friend request.”

Conger is happy she can laugh about it now. “It was awkward in the moment, but now it’s funny,” she said. “I’m really close to my family, so (I knew) it was all in good spirits.”

While some students have to endure prying questions from relatives, others find they have to take action in order to keep everyone a big, happy family. But complying with others’ wishes often means fulfilling incredibly demanding requests.

Isabella Staton, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, thought being away from home meant escape from her family’s winter custom.

“Every New Year’s Day my dad makes us all go for a run as a family,” Staton said. “But this year, I was going to be with friends on New Year’s Day, so I figured I’d get out of it. Plus, it was going to be super, super cold, so I was pretty sure he’d call it off anyway.”

Staton’s father, however, saw neither her absence nor the sub-zero temperature as obstacles. “(My dad) just said we’d do it on New Year’s Eve,” Staton said. “And so we did. He made us get up at the crack of dawn and go running when it was negative 10 degrees outside. Negative 10. It was awful.”

Besides doing something to keep family or friends happy, doing nothing is often required, as well. For Lisa Durrant, a senior in the College of Nursing, holding her tongue and receiving some stares was required in order to let her grandfather experience his holiday cheer.

“My grandpa’s birthday is on Christmas Eve, so this year we took him out to breakfast to celebrate,” Durrant said. “The funny thing though is that he always puts jingle bells on his walker, and those jingle bells are incredibly loud. They don’t just ‘jingle’…they really ring.”

This made walking into the breakfast restaurant quite a scene for Durrant and her family. “I swear, the whole restaurant literally silenced when he walked in,” Durrant said. “All you could hear was him jingling along to our table while people stopped and stared.”

Though a lot of people would dash away or deny knowing the jolly gentleman, Durrant laughed at the memory and was happy her grandfather was enjoying the holidays.

“I can take a few looks if it means he was having fun,” Durrant said. “I hope to celebrate the same way when I’m 93. Just maybe not at that volume!”

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